Following the Government's announcement to close schools across the UK amid the COVID-19 crisis, we spoke to Sam, a Learning Support Assistant in Essex, to understand how she feels about the ongoing uncertainty.
What's your current situation following the government's announcement to close all UK schools?
As a high-risk member of staff, I was actually signed off earlier than the school closures, on advice from healthcare professionals, which was fully supported by the school. I was concerned, however, that this would put even extra stress and responsibility on other members of staff. Teachers are able to work and teach online, but for myself as a learning support assistant I am not in a position to help the students or offer my services remotely, meaning I felt at a bit of a loose end at first!
How do you feel about the communications received through your school up to now about the ongoing COVID-19 situation?
Before I was off work, it was just to seek advice from the government website. By all means, this has definitely been an added stress to the school and far more challenging than we all expected. Despite the situation changing so quickly, the school were very on it with advising parents and ensuring the website was continuously updated. At the time I was still there it was still very much operating as normal, but there was a lot still going on behind the scenes as the situation was evolving.
How do you think parents/carers/guardians, as well as the children, are feeling and coping with the uncertainty?
From the build up to it all, I think the parents were very thankful that the teachers were planning on distributing learning packs that can be taken home, as well as sharing online resources. There was good communication between the school and parents/carers/guardians throughout. As for the pupils, even before school closures there were some anxieties among the children, but just reaching out that one step further, making the time to explain everything to them and giving reassurance seemed to make all the difference.
What support do you think those working in and around education need in coming weeks and months?
Right now we just need the backing of the public and parents to support the decisions that have been made because it is ongoing and we don’t know how long for! It’s not a typical school day, even for the pupils whose parents are key-workers and are still coming into school, it’s all very disjointed. It will take a while to settle into a new routine, so we need all the parents on board to make this transition as seamless as possible.
And finally, do you have any advice you want to share to fellow teachers and support staff?
Stay positive, support your colleagues, and keep your sense of humor!